Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Walkergate: What If...?

Not many of you know this, but I am a fan of alternative history. Alternative history is a form of literature where the author takes a factual course of historical events and asks "What if...?" The more common themes are what if the South won the Civil War or what if Hitler and the Nazis won WWII.

That "What if....?" theme has been playing in my mind a lot since the end of last week.

About a year ago, the left side of Wisconsin was having a heated discussion regarding the recall of Scott Walker. The question at the moment involved the timing of when the recall should be done.

Some, like Mike Tate, head of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, wanted to wait until late spring of 2012, so as to have the recall election coincide with the general election in November.

Many others, including myself, disagreed. However, I also disagreed with starting it right away like we did. And I took that out on Tate as well, blaming him for not delaying the inevitable mad rush into a recall frenzy.

And here comes the "What if...?" part.

What if we listened to Tate and held off on starting the recall?

Given that we collected nearly a million signatures in the dead of winter, I don't think that it would have been an issue to collect them when the weather was nicer.

Also, given that one of the reasons that the recall failed was that people were getting burnt out on all the elections and started disagreeing with all the recalls all the time, waiting would allowed some of that feeling subside.

But look at Walker would have to be contending with if we were in the heat of the battle now.

He wouldn't have been able to rely on the big money or big fire power that he had received, since they would be using that to try to buy Romney/Ryan the presidency. But that's not the only reason his usual friends might have started screening his calls and deleting his emails.

He would be in a tailspin caused by Walkergate.

At the time of the real election, the only thing that Tom Barrett and the Democrats had to hang their hats on was the conviction of William E. Gardner and Darlene Wink. The problem was that Gardner was only a glancing blow at best and too long ago to do any good. And Darlene Wink just wasn't enough by herself to get enough people to save their own hides and vote against Walker.

Ah, but now...now would be a very different story.

Walker would now have a lot more questions to answer and a lot rougher time answering them, even with the corporate media supporting him.

With the conviction of Kelly Rindfleisch, people would want to know what he hired her for, since she spent most of her time campaigning and fundraising while she was supposed to be working for the taxpayers. Walker wouldn't be able to weasel out of this either, since it's his signature on her hiring papers and her promotion papers.

Nor could he play stupid - not that it would really be play acting for him - since we already know that he knew all about the secret router, the blogging and other illegal activities.

Even as Walker would have been trying to weasel his way out of the implications stemming from the Rindfleisch conviction, he would have then been hit square in mid-spin with the conviction of Kevin Kavanaugh.

Oh, without doubt, Walker would have tried his spin on how he was the one that ordered Tom Nardelli to go to the DA about Kavanaugh, but he would still have to explain why he appointed Kavanaugh to the Veterans Affairs Committee. It would also have brought a closer examination of the whole Operation Freedom scandal as well.

And even as Walker was pulling himself out of this political avalanche of bad news, he'd have the one man wrecking crew, Tim Russell, to contend with. For a very, very long time, Walker and Russell have shared a rather special friendship. I doubt that there is very little dirt that one doesn't know about the other.

And with all of these other convictions already laid out, Russell is trussed up like a Thanksgiving Turkey and the only thing between him and the dinner table is the butcher's block.

The DA already has some pretty solid evidence against Russell regarding the embezzlement charges. He also has Wink, Rindfleisch and a lot of the people granted immunity ready to testify against him. And that's just the embezzlement charges. The DA could also get him on the illegal politicking like Wink and Rindfleisch were convicted of. And he's been named an accomplice, albeit not yet charged, in the child enticement charges his partner, Brian Pierick, faces.

With an attorney appointed from the Public Defender's Office, Russell probably won't be able to get the same deal that Rindfleisch got. In reality, Russell's choices are either to go for a plea deal and be prepared to give up a lot of very damning information or be prepared to go to prison for a very long time.

Oh, and did I forget to mention that the Court has ordered the DA and Russell's attorney to have a plea deal ready by November 2, if they are to have one at all. That would be just four days before Election Day.

If Russell would indeed go for the plea bargain, he'd be a regular cornucopia of all of Walker's dirty little secrets. Heck, he's already proven to be a treasure trove, including things like the way Mr. Legal Cooperation Fund had been stonewalling the investigation.

I think I could go 24 hours a day and still not cover everything that Russell knows before the election happened.  And it definitely would have been more than Walker could have spun his way out of.

And one could only guess at how much impact this would have had on the other races, both in the state and nationally.  Every Democrat would have been pinning their opponent with their relationship to Walker.

I definitely think that we would have seen a much different result in the recall, had we just listened to Mike Tate on the timing of the thing. Instead of winning a recall, Walker would have most likely won the consolation prize of a nice pair of shiny conjoined bracelets:

While this kind of navel-gazing won't change things now, it can help make sure we don't make the same mistakes again. And it also reminds us that in Fitzwalkerstan, there is indeed, always more.


  1. The recall did serve the purpose of diverting Jailbait from his agenda and resulted in the recapture of the State Senate which prevented the Wisfascist juggernaut from damaging the state for at least six months. More importantly it converted tens of thousands of Wisconsin's citizens into political activists. This should result in either a more progressive Democratic party or a movement that outflanks the Democrats and forces them to the left, whether they want to go there or not.

    Sure we would have had a better chance beating Walker in a general Presidential election but by then we might be living in a totalitarian state. The political battle set the tone for the court decisions that gave us some breathing space against voter suppression and election rigging.

    Given the fascist onslaught we faced it would have been insanse to take the advice of politicos that the time was not right to fight back, that a better opportunity would come down the road. The Democratic party has performed the historic role of promoting extreme moderation, taming political mass movments and plugging them into their apparatus, so that outcomes are manageable. This is why they get corporate donations. Of course they wanted to divert the energy of the recall into the Obama campaign. Why wouldn't they?

    The recall was the first battle in what will be a long war of attrition. We're faced off against a well financed, mafia like organization, rather than a normal poltical party. They have no regard for the morality, the law or the Constitution.

    Party politics as usual results in a tunnel vision that looks ahead just to the next election cycle, fundraiser or meetings with lobbyisits. As citizens whose actual lives are at stake, we don't have the luxury of sticking to the usual game plan. We need to punch back every chance we get.

  2. It's unlikely the corporate media would have reported the story of Republicans stealing from veterans. Only now are they IDing the non-profits plundered by Walker's people as military "veteran" non-profits. Up North, few had even heard of the basic facts of Walkergate. As for the Recall, the GOP effectively delegitimized this constitutional check on corruption with little push-back from the Wisconsin Dem. Party. Even the grassroots getting attacked and threatened did not merit a response from the politicrats of the Dem Party. Still, the GOP spending upwards of $60-million is a high hurdle, even if the Dems had their heads pulled out of the mud on this hypothetical.

  3. From an Ohio progressive perspective, I agree fully with Gareth and Mal. Energy should never be wasted or saved for the future. It should be used in the moment. Thousands of citizens found a voice and an activity that spawned a new sense of government as community and nurtured an ownership of local and state government. Living with the weight of an unchecked Walker would have be de-habilitating and dangerous to many citizens in the shared community.

    Another aspect of the recall campaign, even when it was unsuccessful: Walker gained a higher profile in the national GOP, he wasted much of his governing energy bragging and glad-handling big money folk. Many of his big plans were tabled. Although his minions became more committed bullies (despite events in Milwaukee) and their fascist and corrupt actions didn't stop, more Wisconsin citizens are "getting it" and progressives from other states observed, were forewarned and energized.

    When Walker is indicted and convicted, his fall will be deeper and the splash (into fracking water, hopefully) will drench many of the pretenses of national Grand Old Party also.

    I say all this while I deeply regret Wisconsin citizens have to endure the Walker regime...still. Palli

  4. Interesting ideas, I just think the GAB would have scheduled the recall at a different time than the November elections, it was always going to be that way.